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SAS Global Grins Squad Delivers Smiles Around the World

The goal of Global Grins is to help promote oral hygiene in order to reduce bacteria illnesses in countries throughout the world.

Service visits and community engagement are fundamental aspects of every Semester at Sea voyage, providing students with the opportunity to not only visit a village, community or nonprofit organization, but also to contribute to the community’s wellbeing and further development. Though the gestures may be small at times, they are meaningful on both sides, whether it is helping to build a school, spending time holding babies in an orphanage or playing soccer with students after school.

In nearly every port throughout the Fall 2013 voyage, students have been donating toothbrushes—dozens of toothbrushes—to schools, villages, shelters, orphanages, South African townships, and Brazilian favelas, as part of the Global Grins project.

A total of 50,000 toothbrushes were donated to the Fall 2013 voyage by Global Grins, a nonprofit organization based in southern California founded in 2011 by SAS alums Joselyn (S’83, S’84) and Todd (S’84) Miller that works to raise awareness about improving oral health and preventing the spread of bacterias and, thus, illnesses.

The goal of the effort is to connect two of the core values of Semester at Sea: global service and health and safety, while promoting proper oral hygiene in an effort to stem bacterial diseases.  According to a 2011 report, out of the 6 billion people in the world, 4.8 billion own a mobile phone while only 4.2 own a toothbrush.

Students on the voyage, along with assistance from one of the resident directors, Alison Casey, in charge of service learning, established a “Global Grins Delivery Squad” to organize locations to deliver the toothbrushes.

They delivered boxes to Peace Village International, in Oberhausen, Germany. In Ghana, they brought toothbrushes to children at the City of Hope Refuge, Torgorme Village, and to a village where SAS participants helped built part of a Pencils of Promise school. In Cape Town, students distributed toothbrushes to children at the Baphumelele Orphanage in the Khayelitsha township and to residents in the Langa township. In Rio de Janeiro, students delivered toothbrushes to two of the city’s favelas, which are the poor, sprawling areas of Rio. And in Salvador, dependent children were among the SASers who provided toothbrushes to students at an elementary school in the fishing village of Praia do Forte.

“It’s been so fun to see the students on the ship so involved in this project and working together to make sure that the toothbrushes are donated to people who need them,” said Casey. “I think everyone really got a lot out of this.”

SAS Fall 2013 Resident Director Alison Casey (seated) and her work-study students organize just a few of the many boxes of toothbrushes the 50th anniversary voyage received in order to distribute to communities in ports throughout the voyage.
Semester at Sea students on the Fall 2013 voyage delivered 50,000 Global Grins toothbrushes in every port the MV Explorer docked on this 50th anniversary voyage.
According to a 2011 report, of the 6 billion people in the world, 4.8 billion own a mobile phone while only 4.2 own a toothbrush.
Hannah Feroce of the Univ. of Pittsburgh shows children at a school in Ghana how to properly brush their teeth with the new toothbrushes.
About 50,000 toothbrushes were delivered to this school built by Pencils of Promise in Ghana by the SAS Global Grins Delivery Squad.
Toothbrushes aid in better oral health, which can have a direct positive impact on overall health. To date, Global Grins have donated nearly 400,000 toothbrushes worldwide.
SAS Fall 2013 Resident Director Alison Casey talks to students who just received their new toothbrushes.
Nicole Johnson of Univ. of Idaho carries boxes of toothbrushes to Peace Village International in Germany to donate during an SAS field trip to the nonprofit organization.
SAS Fall 2013 Resident Director Sarah Olson and SAS students distribute toothbrushes to children in a Berber village in Morocco.
SAS students during a visit to the Langa township in Cape Town where they played with the children in a housing project and showed them the proper method for brushing their teeth.
A little girl in the Langa township shows off the new toothbrush she received by the SAS Global Grins Delivery Squad.
Stefan Peierls of James Madison University demonstrates how to use the toothbrushes to children in the Berber Villages in Morocco. (Photo: Jeanne Siler)
Fall 2013 dependent children Emma and Lisa Goering deliver toothbrushes to a school in Praia do Forte, Brazil.
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